The Minister of State for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives (Industry), Hon. David Bahati has disagreed with the Committee on Trade, Tourism and Industry over the proposal to create an independent commission under the Competition Bill, 2022.
The committee has proposed new amendments to the Competition Bill that includes establishment of a Competition and Consumer Protection Commission as an independent corporate body to implement the act upon enactment.
The draft proposed amendments were presented to the minister and his technical team during a meeting at Parliament on Tuesday, 07 March 2023.
However, Bahati expressed reservations about the proposal saying Cabinet has rejected the creation of new administrative units. “We object to the creation of a commission because we are in the process of restructuring government and reducing administrative costs. The creation of a new commission will create a new centre of costs,” Bahati said. He added that, ‘instead of having an independent authority, we can have a committee to the ministry… So the creation of a commission is a position that cabinet rejected’.
Hon. Cecilia Ogwal (FDC, Dokolo District) was disappointed with the minister’s position that overlooks the importance of having a commission. “Competition is one of the biggest menaces that have disturbed the Ministry of Trade and we felt we needed an independent commission that would even vet companies to make sure they comply with the prescribed rules and practices,” Cecilia Ogwal said, adding that the absence of an authority will create a corporate governance conflict.
The Deputy Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Catherine Lamwaka said the minister should consider lobbying Cabinet to accept this position for the good of the bill. “The committee is worried that you [minister] are fearing to lobby Cabinet on this yet it is a very sensitive matter. The Ministry of Trade will be overwhelmed in implementing this bill,” Lamwaka said.
Hon. Alfred Edakasi Elalu (NRM, Kaberamaido County) said the same law failed in Zambia until an independent commission was created. He added that their belief is that the commission will be self-financing for its sustainability and not depend on the national treasury.
Bahati said he would return to Cabinet to persuade them on the significance of the commission especially since it ‘will not be sucking from the treasury’.
The bill in its current state proposes the creation of a technical committee rather than a commission.
The Competition Bill, 2022 aims to promote and sustain fair competition in markets and prevent practices that adversely affect competition in markets in Uganda.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.